Last post on this blog was published on 9 August 2019, about 48h before my daughter was born. Early parenthood is not conducive to writing (or thinking about climate change), but we are back and bringing you some good news from the get go!
Almost on the dot two years later, August 2021 brought us the sixth and latest iteration of the IPCC report. The research lists the progress we have made in climate change since 2018, when the 5th edition was published. Paper Straw is pleased to confirm we are on track in all criteria set out in the Report.
First and foremost, the IPCC was finally able to confirm that the full, undivided credit for global warming should go to homo sapiens. If readers based in the West, especially in the U.S., were concerned it was purely a product of Chinese ingenuity, or worse, just a power politics tool (sometimes unfavourably referred to as the “Chinese Hoax”) the Report unequivocally confirms this is not the case. Climate change is a real achievement and one that is a truly universal – we can all take pride in it.
“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.
Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere
There is more good news though. Looks like the ambitious target of at least 1.5’C warming vs. pre-industrial levels until 2100 is well within reach. We are at 1.1’C-1.2’C now and, bar a catastrophic reduction in emissions (e.g. to net zero by 2030), we should comfortably reach that target by middle of the century, with the upside scenario of 2’C well within reach.
Even if we encounter any unlikely slowdown in emissions as we go, don’t despair. In all scenarios considered by the IPCC, we hit the 1,5’C target by mid-century (cooling down a plant is a bit like turning an oil tanker – just a trillion times larger), the only risk being the global temperature dropping afterwards. We have full thirty years to ensure this does not happen, with the risk of global warming slowdown or reversal decreasing every quarter and year we keep up the good work.
It is worth noting the IPCC is a scientific, apolitical body, hence it models could not and did not incorporate the risk posed by the so-called Green New Deal put forward by the incoming Biden administration. Concerns were further augmented by the fact the new president is nearly an octogenarian. Analysts were worried he could be less concerned about all-important short term political gains and GDP growth and may instead focus on his long-term legacy and the survival of human civilisation. His decision to include binding environmental targets in some of the legislation recently passed further stoked these concerns.
Fortunately, recent communication from the White House, encouraging OPEC countries to ramp up oil production, confirms these fears were ungrounded. The world’s largest CO2 emissions contributor remains as committed to it’s role is it has been since the first scientific models on global heating became available nearly half a century ago. It is fair to assume the rest of the world will follow America’s lead on this, as it has in the past few decades.
As this sinks in, don’t forget to feel guilty about the energy your computer uses so you can read this. It is a well known fact global heating is solely the result of poor consumer choices and by no stretch of imagination enabled by government subsidies for fossil fuels, money hoarders catapulting themselves into space in giant penises or – most certainly not – our fixation on an obscure, specialised measure of economic output as a proxy for human wellbeing. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of the weekend – everything is fine!